Public-sector jobs matter

Debates over public spending should not avoid the clear economic consequences.

Mike Owen
Mike Owen

Decisions about tax cuts and public spending inevitably affect the economy.

Sept 2010 Iowa Nonfarm Jobs pie chart
One in six Iowa nonfarm jobs in September 2010 — 17 percent — was a government job. (Source: Iowa Workforce Development)

One out of every six jobs in Iowa is a government job. (See chart.) IPP’s monthly Iowa JobWatch summaries have been showing how cuts in public-sector jobs is affecting Iowa’s overall job picture.

When you start whittling away at those jobs — as you do every time you lay off a teacher, or a custodian in a public building, or someone fixing streets or policing neighborhoods, it has an economic impact.

Suddenly, that person is having a harder time making ends meet at home, and spends less in the local grocery store, or puts off repairs or improvements to their car, home or clothes.

Baby needs new shoes? We’ll see. Car running rough? Well, let’s wait a little longer until something really goes wrong. Enough decisions like that, and the next family down the street is making the same decisions, and the next, and so on.

Debates over public spending — which often inaccurately reflect reality on budgets and taxes anyway — should not avoid the clear economic consequences of the decisions on the table.

Posted by Mike Owen, Assistant Director

Author: iowapolicypoints

Iowa Policy Points is a blog of Common Good Iowa, a new organization built on a collective 50 years of experience of two respected Iowa organizations — the Child and Family Policy Center and the Iowa Policy Project. Learn more at

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